NI: Temporary changes to major planning application process extended again
The temporary suspension of the requirement to hold a public event as part of pre-application community consultation on major planning applications has been extended until the end of September 2021.
The latest extension will allow major planning applications to continue to be submitted during the Covid-19 outbreak, though applicants will still have to comply with other requirements on community awareness and input.
The date will be kept under review, taking account of any changes to the public health advice, to ensure that the emergency extension period is “no longer than absolutely necessary”.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “The planning system has a critical role in supporting our future economic and societal recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. My officials and local government officials are working together to ensure the planning system responds as effectively as possible.
“I have acted to introduce legislation today to further extend the temporary removal for the requirement for public events as part of the pre-application process for major planning applications, given that restrictions continue.
“This is an essential step that will continue to facilitate significant major planning applications across the region. If legislation is not implemented this may result in the application process being invalid, leading to a backlog of major applications which would hinder our economic recovery after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
“Public participation remains an important part of the planning process. To ensure that this is not compromised, the published advice and guidance on appropriate measures to replace face to face public events, such as on-line engagement, will remain in place.
“This will ensure that pre-application public participation in the planning process can continue during the emergency period and will facilitate a more consistent approach across the 11 council areas.”
She added: “In planning and right across my Department’s functions, we continue to work closely with other jurisdictions, councils and stakeholders to explore the obstacles and the temporary solutions that are needed until we emerge from the Covid crisis.”